Are CFO’s exploiting finance technology?

According to a report recently released by the ACCA, Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are not taking the lead in fully exploiting emerging financial technologies. There seems to be reluctance by CFOs, even when these financial technologies are proven to be beneficial to the company.

According to the report, Is finance function technology delivering on its promise?, which conducted in-depth interviews with finance executives across a spectrum of businesses including Shell, Aviva, Kimberly-Clark, Deloitte and Accenture suggests that finance organisations are not using technology to its full potential and, in turn, could be missing out on bringing more value to the sector.

 “The problem is that the technology landscape is still complex and fragmented…”

 Jamie Lyon, Head of Corporate Sector at ACCA

 The report further suggests that the real opportunity for CFOs, is to champion the adoption of transformative technology and predictive capability tools to support decision making. However, this remains a work in progress for most. Jamie Lyon, Head of Corporate Sector at ACCA, said: “The problem is that the technology landscape is still complex and fragmented for most finance functions. It is further suggested that there are other issues impeding the sector from fully exploiting technology. Some of these issues call for a change in behaviour, vision and culture within the finance function to really move us towards a tangible technological change.”

Mobile Apps, are they the solution?

According to Mike O’Brien, General Manager of accounting and software applications at FinancialForce.com says that traditionally CFOs have been confined to the office, but mobile apps can allow them to venture into the field. “It’s about personal freedom for the individual as much as it is about the benefit to the business,” O’Brien says.

Apps have spawned their own mini-economy. Developers of the most popular apps out there have made millions. The ‘app stores’ that host their creations have also made money out of taking a percentage. According to CFO-Insight.com, Apple still leads Android in the apps market, with the Apple Store having an estimated 18 billion downloads. In fact, Apple has sold so many iPhones and iPads that they can afford to make their apps incompatible with Android, Blackberry and Windows phones. But the opposite is not true. The popular Google Maps app, for instance, is available on all devices, even though Google would clearly like it to be an Android-only app. 

CFO-insight.com has listed the following as the top 8 CFO Apps for 2014: 

  1. Apple’s iWork
  2. Bloomberg
  3. Cloud
  4. CamScanner
  5. Documents to go
  6. Data Vault
  7. LinkedIn
  8. TripIt

Are we preoccupied with traditional processes?

Deborah Kops, principal at Sourcing Change and co-author of the above mentioned ACCA report, said: “Finance can, through technology, eliminate its preoccupation with processes. Harnessing technologies that mine data for patterns means that the function can become a game changer for business. Kops added, “We should also acknowledge that the application of technology has the potential to change further what a finance career means. If technology increasingly automates transactional finance and is also able to mine insights at the same time, it will change what it means to be a finance professional as well as the capabilities needed.”

Exploitation of finance technology in South Africa has a long way to go and it is difficult to gauge the impact and effectiveness of financial technology in South Africa. Many seem to be frustrated by the lack of internet reliability and speed. It becomes tricky when South Africans are reliant on technology and the technology deliverable is reliant on slow internet connectivity. You would need to be selective and ensure that the chosen technology’s performance is subject to your coverage area. A great way to define your selection is on your service provider’s ability to support that technology.

Visit our global site to download the ACCA App. (www.accaglobal.com)

The ACCA research document is available at http://bit.ly/1boF52q

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